Now that I no longer work for the Boston Globe I can do whatever I want.
Not really. But I don’t have to worry about being busted for making a political contribution, or feel weird about making friends with people I write about. On the contrary. I can shamelessly exploit the connections I’ve made as a music journalist for my personal advancement. So. When I decided to move ahead with the plan to write songs, the first thing I needed to do was dust off my guitar and brush up my skills, which never exceeded paltry. I can produce sounds on my guitar that an average person would tolerate around a campfire. I had a few choices. I could bust out the Alfred Handy Chord Encyclopedia and hole up in my room. I could sign up for lessons at a local music school. Or I could call Jen Trynin, a badass songwriter and guitarist who flirted with rock stardom in the ’90s and lives across the river in Watertown.
I called Jen (that’s her in the photo). She’s sharp and funny — she wrote a memoir called “Everything I’m Cracked Up To Be” — and my intuition, the only game I’ve got, told me she would make an awesome starter guru. Jen told me that she’s not “technically” a guitar teacher. I asked if she would be up for sitting down with me every once in a while for nebulous mentoring involving guitars. I would pay her in cocktails. She said yes. Here is a sample of our early email correspondence:
Jen: Looking forward to our shared adventure. I hope you don’t suck.
Me: I definitely want to talk with you about writing songs.
Jen: My real advice is just use the bottom two (the lowest, fattest) strings as “bass notes” and write yer dang songs wit dat – cuz dat’s all u need, babee! And don’t be shy.
Subject: Update on bar chords
Me: Give me the cheating way or give me death.
Jen: Cheating, definitely.
So far, so good.